Photo courtesy Loilamtam from Pixabay.
Frugal means being careful in using one’s money or the available resources. A person who is frugal is able to categorize the things that matter the most and reduce spending on unwanted things. When a person spends less than what he earns he can save more, invest his money and reap the benefits of compounding his money. When he reaches his financial goals he can have more freedom to do whatever interests him the most. There are many options in life and if he wishes he can take early retirement and pursue his hobbies which he has dreamed of all his life or even start a new career altogether.
You may not be in the habit of saving money and it may be difficult at first to lead a frugal lifestyle. But you can slowly try out the tips and strategies to see how you feel and implement the ones you are comfortable with. Some of the frugal living tips are mentioned below-
1) Create a monthly household budget-
Take a note of the salary or the money that is coming from your business. Track the money where it is going and categorize where it would be easier to cut back the spending. Make a list of all the fixed and variable expenses and you will be able to guess where you will have to spend in the future. You can start cutting back on the variable expenses and if needed you can adjust on the fixed expenses too. Review the budget on a regular basis to check if there is scope for further cuts.
2) Go with a smaller car-
Consider buying the smaller cars as they are cheaper and save on petrol by giving better mileage. Try to maintain the car well and change the oil and filter as recommended in the owner’s manual. Preventive care of the car is always better and if you catch the problems early they are easier to rectify. A well-maintained car will have a better resale value as well as save on fuel costs.
Shop around for the best car insurance by doing some research. Many houses have two cars but if possible keep one car only and this will save you additional money.
If you have a car you can go to work according to your convenience. But if you have a neighbor or friend who works near your office you can arrange a carpool. This will save you money on fuel. You can even take public transport to reach your place of work.
4) Walk whenever possible-
It is good to have a smaller car to save money. But walking often is cost-effective and would save money on petrol. You would be able to keep fit in the bargain as it would be a good exercise.
5) Live in a smaller house –
It is better to stay in a smaller house even if you can afford a large house. A small house has many advantages as you have a lesser loan amount to take and the installments will be smaller which can be repaid in less time period. Besides this, the utility bills will be smaller and fewer maintenance and repair jobs will have to be carried out. The insurance policy too would be cheaper and it would be easier to clean and keep the house spick and span. You can customize and decorate the house as you like and clear off all the unwanted items.
6) Use Generic items-
A generic brand is a product without a well-recognized name as it isn’t advertised and comes with basic packaging. It could be the detergents; soaps, toothpaste, seasoning, etc., and they are as good as their branded counterparts but much cheaper.
In the same way, a generic drug is a medication that is the same as the branded ones in dosage form, safety, and quality. Generic drugs are 30-80% cheaper than the original ones.
7) Buy in-season fruits and vegetables-
It is always cheaper to buy in-season fruits and vegetables as they come in large quantities and it is cheaper for the farmers to produce due to the favorable seasonal conditions. The in-season fruits and vegetables in India are-
Summer season – Mango, melons, blackberries, plum, papaya are the fruits, and gourd, okra, pumpkin, brinjal, and cucumber are the vegetables.
Spring season– Cherries, Jackfruit, pineapple, strawberries, lychee are the fruits, and beans, mushroom, zucchini, cucumber, silverbeet, carrot are the vegetables.
Rainy season– Custard apple, apple, Jamun, peach are the fruits and gourds, okra and colocasia leaves are the vegetables.
Winter season– Dates, Kiwi, orange, grapes, chiku are the fruits, and mustard, spinach, fenugreek, amaranth, beans, radish, carrots, spring onion, garlic, ash gourd are the vegetables.
8) Eat more Vegetables and reduce non-veg.
You can scale back on non-veg and have big financial savings over a year. The thing you can do is have non-veg only when dining outside. The vegetarian diet is always cheaper than the non-veg. alternative. Eat affordable meals that are a lot fresher.
9) Clear off the debt early-
Loans can be paid early and there are benefits in doing this. It can save money and give you peace of mind. Clearing off the debts early can save you money in interest payments. The longer you pay interest, the more costly it gets. Saving money is not the only benefit; it can improve your financial health. Money that goes in monthly installments can be used to reduce other debts. Personal loans have high-interest rates and if you clear them early you can use the money in making investments where you can get good returns.
Credit cards have high-interest rates generally ranging from 18-36% annually and if you are not able to pay back the money by the due date the debt can accumulate very fast. It is better not to use a credit card if you are unable to pay the full amount used. Living frugally and avoiding credit cards you can stay out of debt.
10) Fitness workout at home-
In the metro cities in India, the gym membership will cost you around Rs. 20,000 for the annual plan. But you can save money by doing yoga daily or opting for a workout at home. There are home workout videos on YouTube that will save you money when you work out regularly in your house.
11) Buy in bulk quantity-
The items that you use regularly can be bought in bulk or wholesale price which will be a lot cheaper. You will have to make fewer trips to your store. This will help in saving on your grocery bill. People two generations back used to prefer buying in bulk when there were large families unlike now when there are nuclear families. What you can do is store the grocery in larger containers.
12) Eat out less as compared to home-cooked food-
Over the last few decades, our eating habits have changed as compared to our grandparents. They used to have three meals a day usually at the same time daily and the leftovers were used the next day.
Today we are spoilt for choices. So many fast-food restaurants and 24×7 food delivery services are available. Some people have got into a habit of ordering food from outside many times a week. The food that we get from restaurants is costly as compared to the home-cooked food and if you reduce outside food to once a week or once a fortnight it would save you a lot of money.
If you work in an office instead of eating out daily you can take to office food prepared from your house. In a similar way, you can make something new from the leftover food the next day. Take a look at what is lying in your fridge and try to finish it before buying groceries or eatables.
13) Learn ways to save energy-
Energy bills can be lowered in many ways. Clean the AC filters regularly, use LED lights, sun drying the clothes instead of using the dryer, and instead of using AC you can use the fan when it is not too hot.
14) Sell the clutter that you have accumulated-
Over a period of time, you will notice that you will have accumulated so many things that you are not using and they are adding to the clutter. There are many items like books, newspapers, computer mouse, keyboard, your kids’ clothes, old shoes, fans and many more. These items are of not much use to you and will earn you some extra money once you sell them besides making your house a cleaner place to stay.
15) Cancel subscriptions –
There is so much information online that you just don’t need magazine subscriptions or even newspapers. So many soap operas and movies are being telecast through dish TV that you don’t even require an additional Netflix subscription. Just take time out to consider which subscription is needed and if they are really required in your life. If not they will save you money by unsubscribing.
16) Skip the hairdressing salon and beauty parlor-
Skipping the salon for beauty treatment will save you a lot of money. And for the past 18 months during the pandemic, I have not visited the hairdressing salon to get a haircut. Even though I have got vaccinated I have no plan to go to a hairdressing salon in the immediate future and this will save me some money. Not to mention the time wasted at the salon waiting for my turn to get a decent haircut.
17) Repurpose your clothes-
If you have lots of clothes in your wardrobe you don’t need to buy new ones. Repurpose the clothes instead of buying new ones. Try to choose colors that go with everything else; the shirt, pants, and shoes. This way you will require minimum clothes in the wardrobe.
18) Frugal traveling-
A person can save a good amount of money if he travels frugally. This would mean traveling smart and making the right choice with regards to eating options, accommodation, and traveling. Research the destination before going and have a travel budget. While traveling budget flights, public transport, bargain hotels can be used. Travel to cheaper destinations in South East Asia, Eastern Europe and try to travel off-season when the room prices are much cheaper and in the process, you would be able to avoid overcrowded places when there are plenty of tourists.
19) Automate bill payment-
Automate your bill payment which will ensure that your bills are paid on time. This will help you save money on the late payment fees.
20) When shopping online following tips will help you to save money-
- Make a Shopping list and compare prices-
Make a shopping list and decide what you wish to purchase. This way you will be able to save time rather than search aimlessly. You can compare the price on the price comparison websites or the browser extensions of many of the shopping websites. Some shopping sites have partnerships with the banks during online sales for discounts or cashback. The discounts given upfront are always good as they reduce the shopping price and if cashback is given, check how much time it would take to get credited to your account. The websites like MagicPin, Cashkaro, GoPaisa, Encashit are some of the sites that offer cash backs.
- Set the price alerts
Some online shopping sites allow you to set alerts for products that you are interested in and you are notified when the price reaches that level.
- Use mobile app for making purchases-
Some mobile apps provide big discounts for making online purchases as there are some eCommerce sellers that provide discounts for app users only.
- Purchase during festive seasons–
Many online shops offer huge discounts going up to 70-80% during the festive season, so you can shop during this period.
- Check if it is free shipping-
There are some shipping and delivery charges with the purchase that you make. This can vary across the websites and the sellers. If it is free shipping it is always better.
A person can try some of the frugal living tips and see which ones work the best for him. There are many of these which will help him save money. It doesn’t have to be a sacrifice and you should know that following frugal living will help you to reach financial goals earlier. You will be able to enjoy the later part of your life without any financial worries. The only thing that has to be taken care of is that you have to spend on things that matter and make most of the available resources.